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Key West 2010 presented by Nautica

/Sailing World/'s coverage includes daily reports, interviews, photos, and more.

January 13, 2010

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Welcome to Sailing World’s coverage of Key West 2010 presented by Nautica. We’ll have daily reports from correspondents scattered throughout the fleet, interviews with Boat of the Day winners, exclusive photos from Richard Langdon, and more. Whether you’re competing in the event or following along from your snowbound office, SW is your one-stop shop for all things Key West.

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SW’s past Key West coverage:

Monday, January 25

The Blog Reports

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J/80s: Chuck Allen’s team came out on the short end of a three-way battle at the top of the J/80 class. But that still had them on the podium-behind two very experienced teams-and they enjoyed the week immensely, nonetheless.

Farr 40s: Barking Mad team showed some mettle in the final race, and earned some medal as a result. Terry Hutchinson wraps up another fabulous week at the end of U.S. 1.

IRC 1: What’s a swabble? Well, according to Peter Isler, it’s an all-important part of getting the massive spinnaker on Highland Fling down below decks before turning the corner at the leeward mark. It’s hardly, however, the only key component. Click here for a soup to nuts on dousing the giant sail.

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Friday, January 22

Michael Lovett| |Samba Pa Ti won Boat of the Week honors, but all its owner, John Kilroy (above), set out to do was learn a thing or two.| Boat of the Week: Melges 32 Samba Pa Ti

Although he has run successful campaigns in the Farr 40 and TP52 classes in recent years, Samba Pa Ti’s John Kilroy had only sailed a handful of Melges 32 events prior to Key West 2010. Coming into the event, he figured it would be a learning experience.

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“Since our program is new to the class, our goal for the week was to figure out what was fast, figure out what works, and try to learn a few things,” says Kilroy, whose crew includes tactician Stu Bannatyne and main trimmer Morgan Reeser. “It was really just a coincidence that we did well. Sometimes your goal is to achieve one thing, and you achieve another.”

What Kilroy’s team achieved was first place in its class and Boat of the Week honors. “I like goals,” says Kilroy. “I like to learn. To me, it’s all learning. And because I didn’t grow up sailing dinghies-I grew up on big boats-the Melges 32 doesn’t come naturally to me. To me, it’s like a dinghy.

“I learned a lot about driving the different sails, about rig tension, about where to set ourselves up on the line,” he continues. “At any start, you want to have some distance above the boats to leeward. But in this fleet, sometimes you’ve just got to realize that’s not going to happen. For me, being so competitive, it’s always, ‘I’m first, I want to be out in front, I want to be number one.’ But sometimes it takes a while to get there. You have to chip away. You have to be patient. You can choose the breakfast you want, but it’s not always the breakfast you’re going to be served. Sometimes you’re going to eat something you don’t want to.”

Kilroy learned to eat his porridge this week, and he hopes the discipline will serve him well down the road. “In the big picture, our goal is the 2010 Worlds,” he says. “They’re in San Francisco, where my family has a house, so we’re hoping to do well there.”

Leading up to Melges 32 Worlds in September, the two-boat Samba Pa Ti campaign will make stops in Miami, Italy, and California. As if that ambitious schedule won’t keep him busy enough, Kilroy has something even bigger in the works. “My goal is to design a boat that will be good for the Sydney-Hobart, the Pineapple Cup, the Fastnet, the Honolulu Race, things like that,” he says. “Stu Bannatyne-who’s the world’s finest tactician. I think I can say that with a fair amount of certainty, having sailed with him for so long. He’s the best ocean racer in the world-he and I are looking at what we can do. Whether it’s a 60-foot boat, a 70-foot boat, or an 80-foot boat, I’m not sure. But we’ll see whether the world economy does a little better, and hopefully we’ll move on to another platform for the Samba program.”

John Kilroy is a man who always thinks ahead. Tonight, however, he’s savoring the sweet taste of victory at Key West Race Week.

-Michael Lovett

Photo Gallery: To see Richard Langdon’s images from Day 5, click here.

From the Blogs

Melges 24: Jonathan McKee takes us through the tooth-to-nails finale in the Melges 24 circle, and how Uka Uka came out on top.

Thursday, January 21

Michael Lovett| |Mastman Paul Nahon (above) has been sailing with John Cooper’s Cool Breeze program for 18 years.| Boat of the Day: Mills 43 Cool Breeze

At last year’s Key West Race Week, the tight ratings band in the IRC 2 division made for some of the most competitive racing in the entire event, with the Daniel Woolery’s King 40 Souzal coming out on top.

Souzal didn’t make it back this year, but IRC 2 is no less thrilling in its absence. 2009 contenders like Jim Bishop’s J/44 Gold Digger, Jim Hightower’s Summit 40 Hot Ticket, and John Cooper’s Mills 43 Cool Breeze are battling again, with newcomers like David Murphy’s J/122 Pugwash and Mike Williamson’s Summit 40 White Heat entering the fray.

Today’s big breeze and big waves turned the IRC 2 course into a drag strip. “The heavier air does kind of equalize things up and down,” says Paul Nahon, mastman for Cool Breeze, which posted a 2-2 to earn Boat of the Day honors. “We kept clear lanes and just tried to get away from the pack as much as possible, sail our own race, and let it rip.”

In conditions where speed trumped tactics, Thursday’s racing became somewhat of a a referendum on the effectiveness of each design in this closely matched division. Cool Breeze, a Mark Mills-designed one-off that launched just prior to 2009 Key West Race Week, made an excellent case for itself. “I think we do well in these conditions,” says Nahon, an 18-year veteran of the program, which began with a J/29 and moved on to a Melges 32 before stepping up to the Mills 43. “When he was thinking about building the boat, John [Cooper] looked at different variables of a lot of his different boats over the years and kind of combined them. He wanted a good stiff boat for conditions like today.”

Cool Breeze current sits in third, 9 points behind first-place White Heat. “Everything’s up for grabs,” says Nahon. “Pugwash is right in front of us, and Hot Ticket is right behind, so those are the boats we’re targeting. But there’s still a possibility that we could move into first. White Heat has been sailing very well, very solid and consistent, so it’ll be tough. The whole class is competitive. Based on the conditions, every boat has its sweet spot.”

Having competed in Key West with Cool Breeze 11 times, Nahon has seen the regatta change over the years-for the better. “From our perspective, we’re seeing more and more high-end, focused teams,” he says. “It’s always been a great regatta, always very challenging. The weather’s great, and you won’t find better racing anywhere.”

It’s coming down to the wire in Key West, and the veterans on Cool Breeze are playing it-how else-cool. “No matter what,” says Nahon. “Tomorrow’s going to be a lot of fun. We can’t wait.”

-Michael Lovett

Photo Gallery: To see Richard Langdon’s images from Day 4, click here.

The Blog Reports

J/80s: The increased breeze meant two things for Chuck Allen’s crew on Rascal: a little more speed around the track, and a lot more wear on the hands.

IRC 1: Bella Mente has it sewn up, so for Highland Fling, it’s now about second place, and better maneuvers.

Melges 24: Uka Uka Racing keeps it lead, but only after two nerve-wracking races. Jonathan McKee breaks down the day’s two races.

Michael Lovett| |North Sails’ Jay Mueller (left) and Greg “Moose” Marriner lower a newly repaired genoa from the second story loft they’ve set up for the week in Key West.| Lofty Aspirations

Looking for the heart and soul of Key West Race Week? What you’re going to want to do is head out of the tent, turn left, and walk around the corner of the adjacent building. There, on the second floor of a partially vacant warehouse, is North Sail’s ad hoc repair loft. Inside, you’ll find Jay Mueller, Greg “Moose” Marriner, and Yana Meerson, Race Week’s sail-repair lifesavers.

Mueller and Marriner, of North Sails East, drove down from Milford, Connecticut to run the loft for the week; Meerson is the service manager at North’s Fort Lauderdale loft. The Key West assignment is one they wouldn’t give up for the world, despite the long hours and heavy lifting. There’s always classic rock blaring on the radio-“I’ve come to absolutely despise Led Zeppelin,” says Mueller-and Budweiser close at hand. Literally. “Budweiser” is engraved on the underside of Mueller’s wedding ring.

On Wednesday night, the team recut the leeches of a trio of spinnakers and reinforced the tack of a genoa originally produced by a rival sailmaker. “I couldn’t believe it,” says Mueller of the genoa. “There was no lateral tension on any of the stitching. But I fixed her up real nice like!”

Marriner is the son of North’s IT director, Blake Marriner, and the grandson of Hard Sails’ Phil Marriner. “I’m a third-generation sailmaker,” says the 19-year-old floor assistant. “I’m still in college, so I’m not sure if I’m going to be doing this the rest of my life. But I have to say, it’s pretty cool right now. Look at me: I’m in Key West, and I’m getting paid.”

Mueller starting working at North when he was even younger than Marriner, paying his dues at the company’s now defunct loft in Rocky River, Ohio. The job has taken him from Ohio to Rhode Island to Connecticut, and who knows where it may take him in the future. “This April, I’ll have been working for North for twenty years,” he says. “Who’d a thunk I’d make it this long when I first started cutting numbers part-time after school.”

North doesn’t maintain a full-time loft in Key West, but Mueller would love to change that. “Even when Race Week’s not going on, there are transient boats passing through here all the time. If they want a sail repaired, the closest loft is more than a hundred miles away. If North wanted me to, I’d move down here in a heartbeat.”

Key West could use year-round Jay Mueller. He’d show all these free spirits how it’s really done.

-Michael Lovett

Wednesday, January 20

Michael Lovett| |Charlie McKee is calling tactics for the Melges 32 Yasha Samurai, Wednesday’s Boat of the Day.| Boat of the Day: Melges 32 Yasha Samurai

Everything’s starting to come together for Yukihiro Ishida’s Yasha Samurai team. This is the program’s first Key West Race Week and only its second Melges 32 event ever. In fact, the first time tactician Charlie McKee met his teammates was when he arrived in Key West for practice last week.

“We went into this regatta without any expectations,” says McKee. “But we had a feeling that we were going to try to learn something every day and get a little bit better each time out.”

Evidently the team learned a few things from the mid-pack finishes it posted on the first two days of the event. Today, Yasha Samurai won the first race and placed fifth in the second, earning Boat of the Day honors and moving up to fifth in the standings.

“We went the right way today, and we caught some good breaks,” says McKee of the team’s performance in the shifty, spotty conditions. “Our trimmers did a great job, and Mr. Ishida sailed the boat really well. They were able to hang in there and keep us in a lane when we needed to.”

Michael Lovett| |Yasha Samurai bowman Daisuke Sato (left) and trimmer Takumi Nakamura flew in from Japan for Key West 2010 presented by Nautica. “We have the hardest team to get here,” says Nakamura, “but the regatta’s been great.”| During the second race today, Yasha Samurai was in a sticky situation, caught up in a pack of boats in the middle of the beat with a lane that was getting narrower and narrower. “No one really knew which side was going to pay, and things were sort of closing in and getting tight,” says McKee. “The wind was so up and down, you had to just wait for your time for the pressure to tack in. That mean’t-even if traffic-wise it wasn’t the ideal time to tack-you just had to go.

“In those situations,” continues McKee, “You just say, ‘We need to hang.’ My style is pretty much to let the speed guys do their thing. I try not to interrupt them too much. I try to keep the boat quiet so they can focus and concentrate. Mr. Ishida has tremendous powers of concentration. It was two long, tough races, and he just did not waver at all.”

McKee, Ishida, and the gang-the majority of which flew in from Japan for the event-are having a blast in Key West. The intensity of the racing in the Melges 32 class has inspired them to take their program to next month’s Miami Grand Prix and beyond. “In this class, anyone can do anything at any time,” says McKee. “In any race, all the boats can just as well get first as last. The fleet is so wild. All the tacticians are good, all the crews are good. It’s all about knowing where to go and keeping it together. You try not to get too high when you win or too low when you lose.”

Maybe the crewmembers aren’t letting their instant success get to their heads, but make no mistake-Yasha Samurai is flying high in Key West.

-Michael Lovett

Photo Gallery: To see Richard Langdon’s images from Day 3, click here.

The Blog Reports

J/80s: Moving Day found Chuck Allen’s team fighting to keep within striking distance of the lead. In the first race the finish whistles came like machine gun fire. The difference between top 5 and bottom half was just a few seconds. Click here for Allen’s full report.

Melges 24s: Jonathan McKee takes some time out from the racing to reflect on what it is that keeps some sailors coming back year after year. Different strokes for different folks.

IRC 1: The view from on high onboard Highland Fling gives Peter Isler a good view of what’s happening up the racecourse.

Farr 40s: Someone’s absconded with Barking Mad’s mojo this week, and Terry Hutchinson and crew want it back.

Tuesday, January 19

Michael Lovett| |Giulio Scarselli (left) and Massimo Mezzaroma, of the Farr 40 Nerone, are the proud owners of a new Lewmar winch handle, thanks to winning Boat of the Day on Tuesday.| Boat of the Day: Farr 40 Nerone

Key West Race Week has never been Massimo Mezzaroma’s favorite regatta. “We never have had much luck in Key West,” says the owner of the Farr 40 Nerone, based out of Punta Ala, Italy. “Plus, it’s so close to Christmas, it’s hard for us to make it over here in time. Key West has never been a major regatta on our schedule. We don’t come every year.”

The team has only sailed a handful of Key West Race Week’s in the last decade. They placed fourth twice, in 2008 and 2002, but by Mezzaroma’s standards, fourth doesn’t cut it. As recently as this morning, the perceived Key West curse still hung over the team. On the way out to the racecourse, a crewmember who had indulged in a little too much wine at the team dinner the night before fumbled a winch handle overboard.

Maybe the curse sank with the winch handle. Nerone posted a 3-1 today, earning Boat of the Day honors, the prize for which included-what else-a new Lewmar winch handle. “Now we won’t have to make him pay for it,” says Mezzaroma of his clumsy crewmember. “But we might have to teach him a lesson. [Waves winch handle in hammering motion.] This could be his punishment.”

The keys to success today were good starts and solid tactics. “We always have good speed,” says Mezzaroma. “Today, we were able to get off the starting line in good position. And we did a good job of staying with the shifts. It took us by surprise. We were expecting the wind to be light, like five or six knots, but it was a little more. We were actually a bit light today. But we handled the shifts, and they were not easy to predict.”

Mezzaroma refused to single out a star crewmember. “For us, we win as a team and we lose as a team. Nobody is special. We are a team.”

Like Uka Uka, the Italian Melges 24 team that won Boat of the Day yesterday, the Nerone team has their chef to thank for their camaraderie and focus. “Our chef is actually my ex-girlfriend,” says Mezzaroma. “She has been with us for many years. When you come all the way from Italy, when you’re so far from home and everything is different from what you’re used to, it’s important to have something you know. For us, having good meals together and drinking some good white wine is a good thing.”

According to Mezzaroma, the hardest thing about Key West is the length of the event. “Most of the regattas we sail are three or four days,” he says. “Key West is five days. Even on the last day, nothing is set in stone. You could go into it in first place and still come out in tenth. Tomorrow will very important. It is the turning point of the regatta.”

Despite the need to maintain a consistent scoreline, Mezzaroma will not be bashful on the starting line tomorrow. “In the Farr 40, you can’t be conservative or else you will lose,” he says. “Even if you try to be conservative at the start, once the time starts counting down, it doesn’t matter what you tell yourself. You will still go for it.”

With three days of racing left, anything can happen in the Farr 40 class. But one thing’s certain: Nerone won’t be holding back. Plus, the team has have a new winch handle. And it floats. Key West curse, be damned!

-Michael Lovett

The Blog Reports

Meeting a living legend on the docks is never a bad way to start the day. Unfortunately, for Terry Hutchinson, that might’ve been the high point of Day 2.

Chuck Allen picks an MVP for the day. And guess what, it wasn’t himself.

More and more boats in the Melges 24 fleet are giving Jonathan McKee’s Uka Uka team a run for their money. Read McKee’s blog here.

Photo Gallery: To see Richard Langdon’s images from Day 2, click here.

Michael Lovett| |Bruce Bingman and wife Taran Teague are both serving on the race committee for Key West 2010 presented by Nautica.| Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated

Like so many race committee officials, Bruce Bingman has a thankless task. As the moderator of the PHRF ratings panel and a technical advisor, Bingman’s primary responsibility during Race Week is making sure fleets don’t overlap on the racecourse.

“There’s a lot of math involved,” says Bingman, a US SAILING national race officer, “I take the results from the previous year-not just the finish times, but the times at each mark rounding. The PROs estimate the wind strength for the day, and we calculate the VMGs upwind and downwind for various boats. We plug this information into a matrix that helps us predict the times the various boats will take to get around the course, and that gives us an idea of when to start each fleet, how long the courses should be, and so on.”

When everything runs smoothly, nobody notices Bingman’s mathematical handiwork. But, given all the variables in play, everything doesn’t always run smoothly. “We had a bit of an overlap at one of the gates, and there was an overlap at one of the finishes that some of the competitors were complaining about,” says Bingman. “What happened was, I had only calculated the average VMG for the various boats, not their individual upwind and downwind VMGs. That’s fine when you have an equal number of downwind legs, but when you have a five-leg race, it can be a factor.”

Bingman will continue feeding his matrix and tweaking his calculations all week to reduce the amount of overlap and make life easier for all competitors. The Annapolis resident has participated it Race Week 17 times, nine as a competitor, eight as a member of the race committee. He’s been around long enough to see the silver lining in this year’s mediocre turnout. “There are fewer boats this year, but frankly the racing’s never been better,” he says. “And with less people in the tent, it’s a lot easier to get a beer.”

And after another thankless day on the race committee, Bingman certainly deserved a beer.

-Michael Lovett

Monday, January 18

Michael Lovett| |Uka Uka (from left): Fabio Grinelli, Lorenzo Santini, Jonathan McKee, Marco Corfortoli| Boat of the Day: Melges 24 Uka Uka

As the first major regatta of the year, Key West Race Week is where many teams come to bring themselves up to speed. On the other hand, for teams that are already in competitive form, the first day of the event presents a prime opportunity to kick some butt.

That’s precisely what Lorenzo Santini’s Uka Uka team did in the Melges 24 class today. The Italian team-which also includes SW contributor and Seattle resident Jonathan McKee calling tactics-jumped out of the gate with a pair of excellent finishes and earned Boat of the Day honors.

The 21-boat Melges 24 class is smaller than in years past-likely because last October’s Melges 24 Worlds in Annapolis busted many teams’ travel budgets-but winning it won’t be a cakewalk. Several contenders from the Worlds, including Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon and Alan Field’s WTF, made the trek to Key West. Uka Uka finished sixth in Annapolis. Since then, the team has incorporated a new bowman, Fabio Brinelli, but that hasn’t slowed them down. “We sailed so much before the Worlds, and it wasn’t that long ago,” says McKee. “We really weren’t rusty today at all.”

In both races, a pack of four or five boats separated from the rest of the fleet. “The first finish was just awesome,” says McKee, “We all arrived at exactly the same time.”

Blu Moon edged out Uka Uka to win the first race; in the second race, Santini’s team had a lousy start. “We got stuck behind a pack of boats,” he says. “But we came back alright. (They came back more than alright-they won.) We are very happy for the regatta so far. It seems we are just fast.”

The key to Uka Uka’s speed could very well be the nourishment provided by team chef Marco Corfortoli. After picking up their Boat of the Day award, the gang was headed back to their lodging to feast on Chianina, an Italian steak Corfortoli was preparing. “It’s not from America,” he says. “It’s from Italy. It’s better.”

Corfortoli was talking about beef, but he may as well have been talking about his team. At this point in the game, Uka Uka is simply better.

-Michael Lovett

Photo Gallery: Day 1 Richard Langdon contributes images from the first day of racing.

Terry Hutchinson: OCS? Don’t Push the Panic Button

No surprise as there’s a three-way log jam at the top of the Farr 40 fleet. Right in the mix is Terry Hutchinson’s Barking Mad team, despite a second-race OCS. How did they do it? Read Hutchinson’s blog here.

Chuck Allen: A Little Practice Goes a Long Way

The best-prepared teams spend the days leading up to Key West practicing. That was the plan for Chuck Allen’s J/80 team. However, first they needed a fully functional boat. After assembling their boat until mid-day Sunday, they squeezed in a bit of practice. Was it enough? Read Allen’s blog here.

Jonathan McKee: Comeback to the Comeback

It was a lovely day in Key West; not a lot of wind but enough for two decent races. I am sailing this week on Uka Uka, a Melges 24 from Italy. We had a good start in the first race and went pretty far to the left corner, which is pretty standard fare on a northerly…. Read McKee’s blog here.

Michael Lovett| |Light breeze made for slow going in the J/105 class, where Brian Keane’s Savasana (third from left) has jumped out to an early lead.| Off and Running in Key West

Just getting off the water, where I watched the first day of racing on Circle 2, home to the Melges 24, J/105, and J/80 classes. Clear frontrunners have already emerged in each fleet: Lorenzo Santini’s Melges 24 Uka Uka Racing posted a 1-2, Will Welles’ J/80 Rascal has a 1-3, and Brian Keane’s Savasana has a 2-1. Shifty conditions served to rearrange the fleets on just about every leg, which makes the consistency demonstrated by the Uka Uka Racing, Rascal, and Savasana teams all the more impressive.

See results from all three circles here; photos are here.

-Michael Lovett

From the Outside, Looking In

There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a powerboat in Key West and watching the fleet sail around the cans in 8 knots with brilliant sunshine overhead. Strike that . . . it would be worse to not be here, so no more complaining from me today. I’ll save that for tomorrow when I’m flying out to get back to the SW editorial offices up in Rhode Island.

But my powerboat ride was a good one. From my petrol-guzzling vantage point on the Division 3 circle (PHRF and multihulls), I was in good company alongside Peter Harken, Bob Condon (of NKE electronics), and Dobbs Davis (SW Sail Tech columnist), among others. My hosts were Barry Carroll and George Carabetta, the proprietors of Summit Yachts. Barry and George were shadowing the PHRF 1 fleet closely, watching the Key West Race Week debut of their Summit 35. There are two in attendance.

Sailing World/Dave Reed| |marinerscove.ie, a new Summit 35, makes up for lost time after being called OCS in Race 2 at Key West Race Week presented by Nautica. | Hull No. 1, Act One, belongs to Charlie Milligan and William Titus. In both races today, Act One didn’t put on much of a show; they were slow getting off the line and quickly getting stuck in the slower-moving starboard-tack pack. It wasn’t necessarily a case of the slows. They just never seemed to be able to break free and sail their own race. I’m sure they’ll have their act together tomorrow, but I got the sense that Barry and George were happy with what they saw as the team improved as the afternoon wore on.

Summit 35 Hull No. 2, assembled only a few days ago, is on charter to an Irish team led by Anthony O’Leary. Back in the Emerald Isle they campaign a Mark Mills 39 of the same name (marinerscove.ie), and I’m told they’re sussing it out 35 as a possible boat to fill the small-boat slot for their Commodores’ Cup campaign later this year.

The Irish faired far better than Act One, sailing extremely well in the both races. They were fast, their maneuvers clean, and opting for the symmetric spinnaker for the runs was the right call of the day (VMG running with the symmetric kite was best). In the day’s second start marinerscove.ie hit the line with a full head of steam, but just a little too much and too early. After returning and clearing out, they headed to the right side alone and continued to claw back over the course of five legs to put themselves with the frontrunners, an accomplishment that pleased Barry and George.

But no matter how well they sail the remainder of the week, the Iirsh are going to have their hands full taking down Jim Madden’s superbly sailed J/125 Stark Raving Mad. With two great starts, even better boatspeed, and flawless boathandling (at least what I saw of it), there were sailing alone all day, well out at the front of the fleet, and handily won both races. It’ll be a good little PHRF battle to watch, unfortunately, I-like you-will be watching from the outside.

-Dave Reed

Sunday, January 17

Michael Lovett| |Skip Dieball coaches Travis Weisleder, skipper of the J/105 Lucky Dog, on the eve of Key West 2010 presented by Nautica.| The 105s Are Ready to Roll
Intermittent rain showers, lumpy seas, and light breeze didn’t stop several J/105 teams from getting in some valuable practice today. Skip Dieball is here coaching Travis Weisleder’s Lucky Dog team, and with the help of crash-boat diver Bill Wiggins, he set a windward-leeward course and ran a few informal races for a handful of 105s.

The teams swept out the collective cobwebs and speed-tuned against one another. At this point, Brian Keane’s Savasana seems to be the team to beat, but Damain Emery’s Eclipse and Weisleder’s Lucky Dog are in hot pursuit. It will be interesting to see how the racing pans out in this 14-boat class over the next few days; the practice races were very close.

-Michael Lovett

Ready or Not, Racing Starts Tomorrow

From Terry Hutchinson’s blog: On the eve of Key West and like most the team is sitting in front of the tube watching the Jets and the Chargers play. The last couple of days have been good minus the fact that [skipper] Jim [Richardson] has gone man down with the flu. That does not make the training ideal as inevitably we miss a lot of the little things. For the complete entry, click here.

Also, the final pre-regatta press release is available here

Friday, January 15

There’s Not A Whole Lotta Runway for the Fling
By SW Racing Editor, Peter Isler

Heading down to Key West brings back many great memories. The venue, both on the water and shoreside is one of the best there is. And I have plenty of sea stories from that tiny island that are still fresh years later. Like the time when we were training before a J/24 midwinter regatta and picked up a guy swimming well offshore. His name was “Will” and his intended destination was Cuba – until we “rescued” him. Or the time Jimmy Buffet walked by our boat (the IOR 50 Locura) and asked me for help putting a crew together so he could enter his boat (a classic woodie). The wives and girlfriends from our crew were eager to oblige.

For the rest of Peter’s initial blog entry, click here

Wednesday, January 13

What to Pack for Key West

www.patagonia.com| |According to SW‘s panel of Key West veterans, first-timers would be well advised to hop on over to their local Patagonia store to pick up a pair of thermals and a beanie.| All around the United States, sailors are packing their bags for Key West 2010, presented by Nautica. Undoubtedly, there are some rookies out there-myself included-scratching their heads about what to bring. To take some of the guesswork out of the task, I polled a few Key West veterans for packing advice.

What are a few things a first-timer likely wouldn’t think to pack for Key West?
Morgan Trubovich, Farr 40 Barking Mad: Thermals!

Chuck Allen, J/80 Rascal: Warm gear. It can be breezier than you would imagine. Really warm on the island, but chilly/long days on the water. So, two sets of thermals for the event, dry socks, winter hat-all the items you would need for sailing in the Northeast in the fall. Look at the jet stream right now-it’s cold in Key West.

Martha Parker, Melges 32 Arethusa: Chuck is right that the weather in Key West can be tricky and cooler than expected. I would say the fleece hat, wicking thermals, and fleece second layer piece. I would also suggest packing a second pair of gloves because they always seem to get lost or misplaced!

Peter Isler, Wally 82, Highland Fling XI: Long sleeves for those warm racing days. A winter sunburn is a different animal. Warm enough clothes for both racing and shoreside. If a cold front goes through, it can be frigid. But the water temp is always nice!

Tom Burnham, Melges 32 Bronco: A fuzzy hat and long underwear, not just flip-flops and shorts.

Jonathan McKee, Melges 24 UKA UKA: Warm clothes. It’s important to remember that it can be cold there this time of year, so definitely pack sailing clothes for all conditions.

Jeff Johnstone, J/80 Little Feat: Winter hat and full-finger gloves.

Out of everything your bring, what three items do you expect to use the most?
Trubovich: Sunblock, sailing gloves, toothbrush.

Allen: My GUL Code Zero set, dry socks/shoes, and Neutrogena 70 sunblock.

Parker: Gloves, knee pads, and new hiking shorts with the special hip hiking protection (Don Elliot and I worked together to design this really cool new product).

Isler: Sunscreen, super lightweight jacket, sunglasses.

Burnham: Sunscreen, backpack to carry all the stuff around, Oakley polarized sunglasses.

McKee: Shorts, sunscreen, and hat. Despite what I said above, I’m optimistic about the weather!

Johnstone: Rigging tape, eyeglass cleaner, compass.

What’s the oldest piece of gear in your bag?
Trubovich: The bag itself.

Allen: Probably my thermal gloves. You know-the gardening gloves with the rubber coating.

Parker: My oldest item is probably my Patagonia tank top that I wear under my wicking shirts and crew uniforms. It’s just a favorite and yes, girls have special sailing clothing!

Isler: The bag.

Burnham: My hand-bearing compass and Spyderco H1 rescue knife

McKee: I have some baseball hats that are probably 20 years old. My wife keeps trying to throw them away, but I won’t let her.

Johnstone: 1985 Autohelm digital hand-bearing compass.

What’s the newest?
Trubovich: New Harken sailing shoes.

Allen: My Helly Hansen thermals-brank spanking!

Parker: My special hiking pants from Sailing Angles that have the neoprene knees, butt, and hip protectors.

Isler: Prescription Kaenon Burnies

Burnham: Sebago sailing shoes that are not too big, that way I can wear them without socks. It gets wet on a Melges 32, and socks are just one more smelly wet thing to have to carry around.

McKee: The latest Helly Hansen fashion wear, courtesy of UKA UKA Racing!

Johnstone: Sponge.

What will you bring onboard with you each day?
Trubovich: Sunblock, hat, gloves, shoes, socks, shorts, T-shirt, jacket, game face!

Allen: I bring a small dry bag (West Marine), warm hat, gloves, thermals, dry docks, GUL gear, and sunblock.

Parker: I pack a lot everyday considering I’m the smallest on the boat. My sunglasses, lip sunblock (I always keep this in my pocket), gloves, knee pads (will pack two pairs in my backpack because someone usually needs to borrow them!), Harken shoes (and Rocky Socks when I want to stay dry), multi tool, smock, and bibs. Depending on what class you’re sailing in, your needs can vary.

Isler: Wet Notes, lightweight jacket, USB zip drive to download the Expedition log file.

Burnham: Sunglasses, hat, Patagonia silk weight T-shirt, compass, sailing instructions, shoes, knife.

McKee: As far as clothing, this depends a lot on the weather each day. Bring a little more than you might think; you can always take it off. I always bring a copy of the weather forecast, and the sailing instructions. Make sure your VHF is charged. I like to bring a good solid lunch, and something to drink.

Johnstone: Soft cooler bag stuffed to the gills.

-Michael Lovett

Tuesday, January 12

Chuck Allen, tactician, J/80 Rascal:

Hi, sailors! Chuck Allen here from North Sails One Design in Rhode Island. I’ll be writing daily posts for Sailing World during Race Week. This year, I’ll be racing J/80s on the Division 2 circle. We wanted to get involved with the J/80 class, as both the NAs (Marion, Conn.) and the Worlds (Newport, R.I.) take place in the Northeast this year. What better way to get rolling than Key West? (Actually, I started sailing with Steve Kirkpatrick, old college buddy, at Buzzards Bay last season, and we plan to sail in a bunch of events leading up to the big ones. Steve couldn’t make Key West, but we thought it would be smart if I went to give some knowledge and a little bit of a head start on things.

For the rest of Allen’s initial blog entry, click here

Terry Hutchinson, tactician, Farr 40 Barking Mad:

Well, it’s the day before the day before I go to Key West. Looking outside my office in Harwood, Mary., there’s a dusting of snow on the ground and my mind is racing to make sure I cover the last-minute details. Don’t forget the hand-bearing compass, Sharpie, sunscreen (optimistic), rule book, SIs, NOR, warm clothes-especially this year. A majority of the work has already been done. An 0830 phone call to captain Brad Magosky confirmed that the boat was safely in Key West and a mid-morning conversation with mainsail trimmer Skip Baxter confirmed the sail plan for Thursday’s first sail. Thursday will see us cycling through four mainsails, two of which are brand new and will be our mainsails for the 2010 season, one of which is a practice sail, and the final is the one we will use in Race Week.

For the rest of Hutchinson’s opening report, click here.

Weather Forecast:

Sailing Weather Service provides a look at the weather for Key West 2010, presented by NAUTICA.

A winter jacket has been more useful than a swimsuit and sunscreen in Key West the past couple of days. In fact, Monday’s low of 42 F in Key West was only 1 degree away from breaking the all time record low set 40 years ago. Fortunately, Key West Race Week presented by NAUTICA will not be a frostbite series as temperatures become seasonable in time for racing.

The past several weeks have featured a rather consistent weather cycle. The details of this cycle and resulting winds are discussed in earlier articles you should view in the North Sails Weather Center at: na.northsails.com. In summary, this pattern featured a cold frontal passage followed by a high pressure center tracking from the upper Midwest to the southeast U.S. states. Recently this pattern delivered spells of very cold temperatures with strong gusty winds and was capped off by the record cold outbreak of this past weekend.

Pre-Race Outlook

The typical weather cycle repeats itself the next couple of days…
A cold front crosses Key West Tuesday night followed by a high pressure center tracking from the Plains States to the southeast U.S. However, this time the high does not deliver Arctic air to south Florida, but actually helps warm temperatures. Winds look favorable for practice, if you are already in Key West. Expect a mid to upper teens wind that trends from the northeast on Wednesday to southeast by Friday.

A brief interruption in the typical cycle may make practice difficult this weekend…
Over the weekend, low pressure is likely to move from the western Gulf of Mexico to the U.S. east coast. This storm brings unsettled weather to Key West and could cause travel headaches for anyone flying through airports on the east coast. Ahead of the storm’s cold front, a very gusty southeast to southerly wind builds into the low to mid 20s on Saturday. Heavy downpours and thunderstorms are also likely. Following the front, moderate to fresh northwest to northerly winds occur on Sunday as the region begins to dry out.

Practice prior to this weekend is advised…
The unsettled weather likely causes unfavorable conditions for practice this weekend, especially on Saturday. The best plan, if possible, is to practice through the remainder of this workweek incase conditions are overly unsettled this weekend. If early practice is not an option, then Sunday afternoon currently looks like the best time to hit the water.

Race Week Outlook

Racing may kick off with light winds…
The weather for the race week is becoming clearer but there are still many details to iron out. The pattern of high pressure north of Florida looks to repeat at the beginning of the week. However, the high may be positioned further north, over the Mid-Atlantic States rather than the southeast U.S. Light to moderate winds trending from the north to east are likely if the weather map looks this way at the beginning of the week. These light breezes would cause patchy and shifty conditions that make for tactically challenging races. The weather looks fair with partly to mostly sunny skies, occasional passing showers that cause isolated wind shifts, and seasonable temperatures.

Increased winds and unsettled weather possible for late week racing…
Details on the second half of the race week remain very inexact at this timeframe. High pressure appears to track east of the U.S. as low pressure develops in the Gulf of Mexico or central U.S. The low moves to the U.S. east coast sending a cold front across Key West. Ahead of the front, winds would veer further into the southeast and become fresh with strong, shifty, gusts. Warmer and more humid air could produce numerous showers that cause localized shifts on the racecourse. A late week frontal passage would cause a period of heavy downpours and thunderstorms followed by northerly winds at fresh to strong speeds.

2010 Key West Race Week Long Range Wind Forecast

Day Wind Speed Wind Direction
SAT 17-22 SE/SSE
SUN 15-20 WNW/NW
MON 08-13 NNW/N
TUE 07-12 NNE/NE
WED 09-14 NE/ENE
THU 13-19 ESE/SE
FRI 15-21 NNW/N

North Sails and Southern Spars keep you on top of the weather. The most important step you can take to stay on top of the evolving weather is to make sure you are signed up for complimentary race weather outlooks and race day forecasts issued by the North Sails Weather center at: na.northsails.com. Also, make sure to become familiar with the special North Sails weather portal for Key West. The portal will be a valuable resource for high resolution wind modeling and live race day weather updates.

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